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Even when the program ends, that energy for evangelizing just keeps going and going


A funny thing happened in the Raleigh diocese when the Paulist-inspired evangelization effort was supposed to end. It didn’t.

Terry Jackson estimates that 20 percent of the small groups formed as part of the Paulist evangelization effort continued to meet in some capacity after the Lenten program formally ended. As he looks ahead to next year, the sense he has gotten from parishes is, “They can’t wait to do better.”

But many parishes are not waiting until next year to carry on. At the end of Lent, parishes held reflection days during which they identified their evangelization activities and what more they could do. Some wanted to keep going.

At a suburban parish in Wilmington, N.C., parish coordinator Tom McGann said that a spinoff of Disciples in Mission is an adult education program that will begin in September. The parish is offering ongoing courses on topics like Bible study, prayer and contemplation, and one-time lectures on the death penalty, family planning and raising kids.

Planners are offering a variety of topics and a choice of meeting times because, McGann said, “We sort of adapted the philosophy that one size doesn’t fit all.” Jackson said that many parishes are planning adult education activities as a result of Disciples in Mission.

Since their church burned to the ground June 11, all members of The Outer Banks Catholic Parish in North Carolina haven’t been able to come together to mourn their loss. Mary Ann Pezzullo said the Disciples in Mission team decided to create a mediation around the loss of the church and suggested that all of the Lenten groups reconvene to use the meditation and discuss how they are feeling.

At St. Anne Church in Edenton, N.C., Katie McGuinness believes that parishioners now recognize that they evangelize throughout the year through their involvement in parish and community activities, such as volunteering at a food pantry or a clothing closet or coaching a local sports team. McGuinness also believes people are carrying a stronger spirituality with them into these activities. As a result of the Disciples in Mission experience, McGuinness said, “I pray more. I read the Bible more. ... Things seem lighter for me. Maybe that’s because I can turn things over to God.”

People are talking about their faith in ways Jackson never heard before. “People make reference that they really can feel the Spirit working. That’s new language for me,” he said.

Perhaps that’s the language of evangelization.

National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 1998